Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Madrid and a little bit of science

*disclaimer:  I was not paid by Bio-Rad Laboratories, INC to promote their product.  These experiences and opinions are entirely my own.*

I have to admit I didn't see much of Madrid while I visited.  I was lucky enough to be asked to do a presentation on one of my projects during my post-doctoral fellowship.  For this research I used a high throughput instrument developed by Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc for the detection of syphilis.  They knew I was moving to Germany, and invited me to speak about my results at their BioPlex 2200 User Meeting.  

Finally, a chance to talk science!

It was a great networking opportunity for me, since all of the attendees were from laboratories in Europe.  I enjoyed learning about all of the different diseases the instrument can be used to test for.  They even have an assay developed for celiac’s disease.  I am so grateful to have been offered the chance to speak at the conference.  I haven’t talked science in 4 months, and have missed my first true love (sorry Sam, we had a connection long before I met you).   I also met two successful professional women, and they restored my faith in the idea that you can be a successful professional woman and have kids too.

Okay, enough about me and my love for science.  Here are a few pictures of my hotel!  I stayed at the Intercontinental Madrid.  It's located in the business district, but it wasn't too far from the sights.  The staff was really welcoming, and it's one of the nicest rooms I've had the chance to stay in a while.  

So cozy!

To try or not to try....

Too bad Sam wasn't here to enjoy this huge patio.

Loved the view!

I loved, Loved, LOVED Spain!  I studied Spanish in high school, and always dreamed of visiting Spain. Woohoo, now I can check the box of dream come true ;).  I'm hoping we visit Spain as often as possible while we are stationed here in Europe.  I feel way more at home speaking my mixture of German - Spanish here, which is crazy since my German knowledge is so little.  Here are a few pictures of my sightseeing during a break in the conference.  

Plaza de Colon - This plaza commemorates the explorer Christopher Columbus, and is home to the biggest flag in Spain.  Gigantic!

Puerta de Alcala - Built in 1778 as a monumental gate in the city wall in order to get rid of the drab medieval city walls.   You can find it in Independence square.

Ciebeles Palace - One of the world's most beautiful city halls.

There is much more to see in Madrid, and I hope to return to see the Temple of Debod, and the Plaza Mayor.  In 1968, the Temple of Debod was donated to Spain by an Egyptian state for gratitude in helping save the temples of Abu Simbel.  It's one of the few Egyptian architectural works that can be seen outside of Egypt.  The Plaza Mayor is a famous plaza where bull fights, soccer games, markets, and executions took place in the old days.  I saw this on a bus ride in the city, but I would have loved to walk around and take it all in.

I was lucky enough to eat at the famous Flamenco dancing restaurant Corral de la Moreria.  Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance that involves singing, guitar playing, dancing, and hand claps.  I was mesmerized the whole time, and this goes on my list of best performances ever seen!

I took a few videos to share with you!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Commissary Rewards?!?

*disclaimer:  I was not paid by the commissary rewards program to promote this service.  These experiences and opinions are entirely my own.*

As if there could ever actually be a reward for going to the commissary, right?  Unless you feel rewarded when standing in long lines, weaving through aisles jam-packed with carts, hearing the occasional screaming child (no judgement to all my parents out there...I'll feel your pain one day), or standing in a check out line that resembles Best Buy on black Friday.   We never used the commissary at Ft. Campbell as much as we do now.  I never felt like going through the hassle of driving 20 minutes when Kroger was five minutes from our house.    Now that we are living in Germany the commissary has become my new best friend.  One day when I was spending some quality time with my new BFF in the self check out line, I noticed the Commissary Rewards Cards sitting in a stack.  I had seen a couple of commercials on AFN about the card, so I went home to do some research and see if there were any coupons I would actually use. 

I'm such a bad Army wife.  Am I the last person to find out about this card?

A while back I attempted to play the whole coupon game, but I gave up when I realized I was just buying random things that I never actually would have purchased.  I also didn't have enough dedication to put a whole binder together like some of those savvy couponers out there.  Luckily, the commissary rewards card is so easy to use and has coupons for items you would normally buy. 

I have to admit this is a pretty rewarding view from our commissary.

It's all done online, so you don't have to keep folders for all of your coupons and fumble through them at the check out line.  The card actually stores all of your coupons.  I've seen a few reviews on the card saying that it didn't work when they were in the check out line, so I was a bit reluctant when I used it for the first time.  I asked the cashier to see if it always worked, and he said he has never seen it not work.  Just remember this isn't like other grocery store cards because you have to actually go online and load the coupons you want on your card.

It's pretty amazing.  I even found that one of the items had a paper coupon next to it in the aisle.  I wasn't sure if it would work at check out, but I decided to pick it up and see what happened.  The cashier said sometimes it accepts the coupons and sometimes it doesn't.  It must have been my lucky day because it did! 

The mobile app for this is really well put together.  You can even add coupons to your card while you're shopping.  For example, I remembered I needed batteries while I was shopping.  The mobile app allows you to search for coupons using a brand name, so I tried a few names and found a coupon for $0.50 off.  Score, so easy! 

A few of my commissary rewards:
Fabric freshner:  $0.75 off
Batteries:  $0.50 off
Frozen pie crusts:  Save $1 on 2 
Refrigerated baked goods (because my cookies from scratch suck):  Save $1 on 2 

My favorite reward so far:
Body wash:  Originally $2.99.  CRC coupon $2.  Coupon in aisle $0.50.  I paid $0.49!!!

So, it turns out there is actually something that can give you a rewarding feeling after you make it through the lines.  So, go and pick up your card at your local commissary. Register it online here.   Click all of the coupons that are useful to you.  Then download the mobile app because it's so useful and almost makes it more like a game, not to mention it's something else to do besides check your IG for the 10th time that day (or is that just me? #waytoomuchtimeonmyhands). Good luck friends!  

Did the card work for you?  I'd love to hear your favorite deal and experiences. 

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